Prince William‘s final day in Israel was a poignant one.
On Thursday, he made a solemn visit to the Western Wall, carefully placing a prayer in the ancient stones and laying his right hand on them in quiet reflection. He wore a yarmulke, or Jewish head covering, as a sign of respect.
He also laid flowers at the tomb of Princess Alice, the mother of Prince Philip, at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem’s Old City on the last day of his historic visit to Israel — the first official tour of the country by a member of the British royal family. Princess Alice is held in special regard for saving a Jewish family from the Nazis by offering them shelter at her palace in Greece.
At St. Mary Magdalene, William was hosted by Father Roman, the head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, and Abbess Elizabeth, who told the prince to pass along to Philip that they were caring for Alice’s tomb and praying for her.
After the visit, Father Roman shared an exchange that revealed much about the no-nonsense and spontaneous character of William’s 97-year-old grandfather.
“When I was showing [William] the family tree with the Russian links, I told him that I’d read somewhere that someone once asked Prince Philip if he had ever been to Russia, and that he had said, ‘They murdered half my bloody family, so maybe I’ll go, maybe not,’” The Daily Telegraph reported.
“[William] laughed and said, ‘He would say that.’ ” The royal dad left with an array of gifts, including small crosses and wooden Easter eggs for Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte “so they have a blessing from Jerusalem,” said Father Roman.
William, 36, earlier stood at a spectacular viewing point at the Mount of Olives, looking over the Old City before taking a tour of some of the most sacred religious sites in the region.
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His morning in the city also took in the Islamic shrine of the Dome of the Old Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque.
It has been a landmark week for the prince. He became the first British Royal to make an official visit to Israel and then the disputed territories, meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, as well as President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine. He passed a message of peace between the leaders.